Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club Inc. v. Pablo Palermo
Claim Number: FA0902001246270
Complainant is Red
Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club Inc. (“Complainant”),
represented by Joseph R. Englander, of SHUTTS & BOWEN LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <redknights.com>, registered with Backslap Domains, Inc.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Honorable Karl V. Fink (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on February 5, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on February 6, 2009.
On February 6, 2009, Backslap Domains, Inc confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <redknights.com> domain name is registered with Backslap Domains, Inc and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Backslap Domains, Inc has verified that Respondent is bound by the Backslap Domains, Inc registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On February 12, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of March 4, 2009 by which Respondent could file a response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent via e-mail, post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent's registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts, and to email@example.com by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On March 10, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Honorable Karl V. Fink (Ret.) as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent." Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <redknights.com> domain name is identical to Complainant’s RED KNIGHTS mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <redknights.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <redknights.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant is a social motorcycle club that uses the RED
KNIGHTS mark for its membership insignia on clothing and ornamental patches for
clothing, as well as on goods that Complainant sells. Complainant registered the RED KNIGHTS mark with
the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on July 15, 2008 (Reg.
No. 3,465,185, filed December 26, 2006).
Complainant has used the RED KNIGHTS mark continuously in commerce, to
promote membership in the club and sales of its merchandise, since at least as
early as 1983. There are now more than
6,000 members of the club throughout the world, and 225 chapters in the
Complainant registered the <redknights.com> domain name on February 7, 2000. In June 2004, Respondent requested the domain name. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that contains links to Complainant’s competitors.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that Complainant has established rights in
the RED KNIGHTS mark for purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i)
through its trademark registration with the USPTO. See
Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Bonds, FA 873143 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 16, 2007) (finding that a
trademark registration adequately demonstrates a complainant’s rights in a mark
under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i)); see also
The Panel also finds that Complainant has established common law rights through sufficient secondary meaning in the RED KNIGHTS mark through its continuous use of the mark in commerce since at least as early as 1983, and through Complainant’s international expansion. See Kahn Dev. Co. v. RealtyPROshop.com, FA 568350 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2006) (holding that the complainant’s VILLAGE AT SANDHILL mark acquired secondary meaning among local consumers sufficient to establish common law rights where the complainant had been continuously and extensively promoting a real estate development under the mark for several years); see also Quality Custom Cabinetry, Inc. v. Cabinet Wholesalers, Inc., FA 115349 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 7, 2002) (finding that the complainant established common law rights in the mark through continuous use of the mark since 1995 for the purpose of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i)).
Complainant argues that
domain name is identical to Complainant’s RED KNIGHTS mark pursuant to Policy ¶
Respondent’s disputed domain name contains Complainant’s mark in its entirety,
with only the space between the terms removed, and the generic top-level domain
(“gTLD”) “.com” added to the end of the mark.
The Panel finds that removing a space from a mark does not distinguish a
domain name from that mark in any way, because no domain name can contain a
space. See Bond & Co.
Jewelers, Inc. v.
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant asserts that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the <redknights.com> domain name. If Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden shifts to Respondent to prove that rights and legitimate interests exist pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case. See Document Techs., Inc. v. Int’l Elec. Commc’ns Inc., D2000-0270 (WIPO June 6, 2000) (“Although Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant prove the presence of this element (along with the other two), once a Complainant makes out a prima facie showing, the burden of production on this factor shifts to the Respondent to rebut the showing by providing concrete evidence that it has rights to or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.”); see also Towmaster, Inc. v. Hale, FA 973506 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 4, 2007) (“Complainant must first make a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), and then the burden shifts to Respondent to show it does have rights or legitimate interests.”).
Complainant contends that Respondent is neither commonly known by, nor licensed to register, the disputed domain name. Respondent’s WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Pablo Palermo.” Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii), Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See M. Shanken Commc’ns v. WORLDTRAVELERSONLINE.COM, FA 740335 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 3, 2006) (finding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <cigaraficionada.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) based on the WHOIS information and other evidence in the record); see also Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply).
Respondent is using the <redknights.com> domain name to display links to third-party websites, some of which are in competition with Complainant. The Panel infers that Respondent is using the disputed domain name to earn click-through fees, and thus finds that Respondent has not made a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Wells Fargo & Co. v. Lin Shun Shing, FA 205699 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 8, 2003) (finding that using a domain name to direct Internet traffic to a website featuring pop-up advertisements and links to various third-party websites is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii) because the registrant presumably receives compensation for each misdirected Internet user); see also Coryn Group, Inc. v. Media Insight, FA 198959 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 5, 2003) (finding that the respondent was not using the domain names for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use because the respondent used the names to divert Internet users to a website that offered services that competed with those offered by the complainant under its marks).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using the <redknights.com> domain name to intentionally divert Internet
users to the associated website, which displays third-party links to competing
websites. In cases such as this, the
Panel may assume that Respondent is collecting click-through fees and
attempting to profit by creating a likelihood of confusion between
Complainant’s mark and the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the
disputed domain name is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to
Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).
See Allianz of Am.
Corp. v. Bond, FA
680624 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 2, 2006) (finding bad faith registration and use
under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent was diverting Internet users
searching for the complainant to its own website and likely profiting); see also
In addition, the Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the <redknights.com> domain name to disrupt the business of Complainant by offering links to competitors is further evidence of Respondent’s bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Classic Metal Roofs, LLC v. Interlock Indus., Ltd., FA 724554 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 1, 2006) (finding that the respondent registered and used the <classicmetalroofing.com> domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) by redirecting Internet users to the respondent’s competing website); see also Disney Enters., Inc. v. Noel, FA 198805 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Respondent registered a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant's mark to divert Internet users to a competitor's website. It is a reasonable inference that Respondent's purpose of registration and use was to either disrupt or create confusion for Complainant's business in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) [and] (iv).”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <redknights.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Honorable Karl V. Fink (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: March 24, 2009
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